Photo: Evikka (Shutterstock)
As far as pets go, chickens are incredibly useful to have around: A pet chicken will lay eggs, eat food scraps and common garden pests, and their poop can be used for compost. Raising chickens is also a good way for kids to learn about where their food comes from, and the work that is involved in getting those eggs to the table. But if you live in the city, and lack any amount of significant land, you may think it’s not really an option for you—but you might be wrong.
Can you raise chickens in the city?
If you live in a city and want to raise chickens, the first thing to do is check your local laws, which might be more amenable than you think. For example, in the city of Houston, where you might think chickens would be a big “no,” you are legally allowed to have up to 30 of them, provided you have a coop that isn’t within 100 feet of a church, school, or neighboring home. (You just can’t have a rooster, because of the noise.)
It would be advisable to talk this over with your neighbors beforehand, though. Even if it is legal, it’s courteous to at least give them a heads up (and promise to gift them with fresh eggs).
Have a dedicated chicken coop
If you are going to raise chickens in the city, you will need a dedicated chicken coop, one with space for them to roam around and a place up high where they can roost. In addition to giving them a dedicated space to lay eggs, the coop will protect them from predators. The types of predators you’ll need to be concerned about are in different in the city versus the country—think rats, raccoons, hawks, dogs, or even humans—but they do exist.
If you want your chickens to be able to roam around a little bit (and eat the pests from your garden), you’ll want a tall fence to keep them from escaping your yard—and it’s best to only let them out for short periods of time, such as in the evening when you are around.
Chickens need fresh food and water, plus a clean coop
When it comes to keeping your chickens healthy and happy, they need fresh food and water, plus a clean coop to will help prevent the spread of any diseases. Ideally, they should be given fresh food and water every day, although there are some feeders that will allow you to refill the food every week. In addition to chicken feed, chickens will eat fruit and vegetable scraps, bread, and insects.
You’ll want to clean and disinfect the food and water containers regularly, about every week or so. The fresh water is especially critical in the summer, as chickens are prone to overheating. In the coop, you’ll want to replace the hay about once or twice a week, and twice a year, you should perform a deep clean.